Tips for Working from Home with Kids
Working from home? We hear you.
At Yoto HQ, we’ve always been conscious about balancing work with family - after all, we’re a company run for parents, by parents and have been regularly working from home since we started.
Right now, the working-from-home arrangement is becoming the norm for people around the world. And that’s on top of global trends which see remote working growing significantly year on year.
Working from home comes with its share of perks, of course. No commute, healthier and more affordable meals, a more flexible schedule and fewer childcare fees.
But working from home with kids presents challenges of its own - challenges we’re all too familiar with - and so we’ve compiled our team’s top tips for keeping yourself sane (let alone productive!) while working with children at home.
Make a family schedule
No matter how you spend your days, you’re probably familiar with the power of a good schedule.
We’ve found that setting a structure early and sticking to it helps keep our little ones on the right track. Try waking them up, and getting them dressed and fed just like they were heading to daycare or to school. This momentum and sense of purpose gets everyone’s day off to a good start!
Next, work with them to plan out their day. Depending on your parenting style, this could be a loose guide or a detailed agenda of planned activities. As with many things in life, the important thing is to stick with it! As you go, think about planning some down time so you can focus your energy at points when you’re less likely to be interrupted.
Creating a poster or artboard which outlines your family schedule can be a great way to keep kids attentive to how they spend their time, and how you spend yours. Feel free to get creative - a whiteboard works well, or get the kids to visualise their day with a fun poster design!
Get quality time in early
We all have different work days so making time for play time isn’t always possible! But if you can dedicate a bit of time early in your day for some quality play, your kids may be more likely to give you some space later on.
We find that when our kids use screens early in the day, their moods quickly deteriorate as the day goes on. Instead, we favour activities that get their minds and bodies moving. Try reading a book together, building a lego castle or playing some counting or spelling games.
Many parents in the Yoto community like to start their day listening to Yoto Daily as a family before using the theme of each daily episode as inspiration for drawing games or creative writing activities.
Set boundaries (and reinforce them!)
Like most things in parenting life, this is easier said than done! Kids and boundaries don’t usually play well together, but they can learn to love each other.
Signalling to your kids when you can and can’t be disturbed helps them form new habits, especially when reinforced each day. Try creating a “stop and go” sign with them which you can place on your desk or door knob to let them know when to respect your privacy. Of course, they’ll do just the opposite at first, but when they next burst into your conference call (this will happen), you can take a moment to remind them of the sign and further reinforce this new practice.
This will take work, but through repetition your children will learn to respect simple cues like these and work around them.
Finally, since you can pretty much count on interruptions early on, try to set the scene with your co-workers ahead of time. We just remind our colleagues that there may be an “appearance” at some point but that we will deal with it and come right back to the call as soon as possible.
Who can forget this classic clip of a father's family bursting in during an interview with The BBC? Your 9:30 marketing catch up will be just fine!
Have lunch together
This is a healthy family ritual which keeps your schedule anchored. It’s a chance to check in with your kids, to ask them about how they’ve enjoyed the first half of their scheduled day and to talk through what’s next. Again, repetition and communication helps keep little ones on track.
It’s also an opportunity to top up that important “attention-ometre” and buy yourself a little extra space in the afternoon. To create a sense of teamwork, try getting the kids to pitch in with the cooking or help out by setting the table.
Use downtime for productivity
Remember all that planning you did at the start of your day? This is when present-you gives past-you a big high five for planning in some downtime for the kids.
If your kids are young enough then now is the time for a good nap - get them off to sleep for an hour or two. If not, then try engaging them in some quiet play time. Some parents keep a special box of “quiet time” toys which only come out when their kids are keeping the volume down. The novelty of these toys means that kids can stay interested for longer than usual.
Use this time to tick some things off your to-do list for the working day. Divide your precious quiet time into 20-minute blocks and power through until the spell is broken.
Don’t forget - our Yoto Player has a built in headphone port so kids can plug in some headphones, slot in their favourite story, and lose themselves in their imagination while you find some headspace. Perfect!
End your working day
Without the ritual of sending one last email, closing a laptop and heading out the door, even true working-from-home veterans can struggle to switch off at the end of a long day.
Signal to yourself and your family that the working day is done with a short walk. Even if it’s just around the block, a bit of fresh air can work wonders for clearing your head and give your kids a chance to burn off some extra energy.
Be Kind to Yourself
If working from home with kids is new to you then it’s going to take some time to adapt. Mistakes will be made, tempers may be lost and your productivity may dip. Embrace the ups and downs of your new working arrangement and go easy on yourself and those around you.
Of course, every household is different, so just try to pay attention to what works for you and yours, and what doesn’t. With time, you’ll learn more about yourself and your family - it could be the best thing you ever did.